Students push for university climate change divestments

When environmentalist Bill McKibben hit the road in 2012 to preach the gospel of sustainable investing, few would have guessed that his biofuel-powered bus tour of United States universities would spark a worldwide divestment movement. But eight years later, the work of McKibben and others has led more than 1,250 institutional investors with US$14.5 trillion in assets to commit to cut fossil fuels from their portfolios, and inspired a new generation of activists to take the fight to companies profiting from climate change, writes Billy Nauman for the Financial Times.

Their message caught on quickly with students. If the world was going to keep global warming in check, energy companies would need to leave the vast majority of their fossil fuel assets in the ground. Therefore, university endowments that held fossil fuel stocks, as McKibben argued in Rolling Stone magazine, are investing in a way “that guarantees [their students] won’t have much of a planet on which to make use of their degree”.

At first, many school administrators and endowment managers were not so easily persuaded. The early adopters were the type of institutions one would expect – the first to take the fossil-free pledge was Unity College, a liberal arts school in Maine that calls itself America’s Environmental College. In the US, Brown University became the first Ivy League school to sign up in March 2020. Cornell University followed suit in May. Yet the efficacy of the campaign is still an open question.
Full report on the Financial Times site